Format: Compact Disc
Released Date: January 11, 2005
Style: Jazz Instrument
Number of Discs: 1
Originally Released: 1970
Label Name: Columbia
Personnel: Miles Davis (trumpet); Brock Peters (spoken vocals);
John McLaughlin, Sonny Sharrock (electric guitar); Steve Grossman
(soprano saxophone); Herbie Hancock (organ); Michael Henderson
(bass guitar); Billy Cobham (drums).
Liner Note Authors: Dave Miles; Bill Milkowski.
Recording information: Columbia 30th Street Studios, New York, New
As Miles Davis gained more experience working with modern blues,
the intellectual substance of jazz still dominated his music
melodically. But with each successive project, the trumpeter looked
to get on the good foot and approximate the rhythmic context of
popular dance musics. A TRIBUTE TO JACK JOHNSON was originally
conceived as the soundtrack for a documentary on the life of the
first Afro-American heavyweight boxing champion, but these two
long, extended works stand on their own as great music, among the
most deeply-felt pieces in the trumpeter's post-IN A SILENT
WAY/BITCHES BREW canon.
The infectuous boogaloo groove of "Right Off" signals a major
change in Miles' interpretation of the rhythm section, as John
McLaughlin's crunching, wah-wah-inflected power chords dance
fervently around the relentless backbeat of Fender bassist Michael
Henderson and drummer Billy Cobham. Gone are the trappings of bebop
harmonies and modern jazz rhythms, save for Miles' dramatic solo,
with its long, linear melodies and nasty blues inflections.
Affectionate parodies of Sly Stone and Jimi Hendrix abound on
"Right Off" and the haunting, surreal "Yesternow," which is a
contemporary update of the classic Miles/Gil Evans mood piece. The
groove accrues momentum in a dreamy, backwards manner, keying off
Henderson's hypnotic modal figures and McLaughlin's speech-like
figures, culminating in an atonal distortion solo by free jazz
pioneer Sonny Sharrock over a Band Of Gypsies-styled rhythm vamp.